"Open Government" initiative blocked by judge, case headed to AZ Supreme Court

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August 10, 2012

By: Al Ortiz

Contact: Brittany Clingen

PHOENIX, Arizona:

Controversy struck one of two ballot measures that filed signatures by the July 5 state petition drive deadline in Arizona. Now, it moves on to the state's highest court.

The measure

The measure, also known as the Open Government Act, would implement a top-two style open primary system. In a top-two open primary, candidates for a government position run on the same primary ballot regardless of party affiliation. All registered voters are then able to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. The two candidates with the most votes are then placed on the November general election ballot, regardless of party affiliation. The proposal was introduced by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson.[1][2]

The measure was filed with the Arizona Secretary of State on September 27, 2011.[3]

Signature submission

In order to qualify for the 2012 statewide ballot, supporters were required to collect a minimum of 259,213 valid petition signatures by deadline.

On the day of the deadline, July 5, supporters turned in signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State's office. Signatures are being verified to see if the measure is eligible for the November 6, 2012 ballot.[4]

The lawsuit

On July 23, 2012, a lawsuit was filed with Maricopa County Superior court aimed at blocking the measure from the ballot. According to reports, the lawsuit against the measure was filed by opponents who claim the initiative has "a legion of unintended consequences." They are represented by Attorney Michael Liburdi, who argues that the proposal violates the state single-subject rule.[5]

According to reports, arguments were heard during the week of July 30, 2012.[6]

On August 6, 2012, the court ruled that the measure should not be placed on the ballot because a provision in the measure violates the state's single-subject law.[7]

Single-subject rules require that an initiative contain only one issue or subject. The initiative can only address one question. Currently, fifteen states have a single-subject law.

Judge Mark Brain stated that there is no reason why a prohibition on public funding for party activities should be included in the initiative.

According to reports, supporters of the initiative, The Open Government Committee, appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn the ruling on August 7, 2012.[8]

The text of the proposed amendment can be found here.

See also

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